Talk today about Britain's psychedelic psyxties, and it's the light whimsy of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, the gentle introspection of the village green Kinks, Sgt. Pepper, and "My White Bicycle" which hog the headlines. People have forgotten there was an underbelly as well, a seething mass of discontent and rancor which would eventually produce the likes of Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, and the Edgar Broughton Band. It was a damned sight more heartfelt, too, but the more some fete the lite-psych practitioners of the modern age, the further their reality will recede.
Fronted by journalist/author/wild child Mick Farren, the Deviants spawned that reality. Over the years, three ex-members would become Pink Fairies; for subsequent reunions, sundry ex-Fairies would become honorary Deviants. And though only Russell Hunter is present on Ptooff!, still you can hear the groundwork being laid. the Pink Fairies might well have been the most perfect British band of the early '70s, and the Deviants were their dysfunctional parents.
In truth, Ptooff! sounds nowhere near as frightening today as it was the first (or even 21st) time out; too many reissues, most of them now as scarce as the original independently released disc, have dulled its effect, and besides, the group's own subsequent albums make this one look like a puppy dog. But the deranged psilocybic rewrite of "Gloria" which opens the album, "I'm Coming Home," still sets a frightening scene, a world in which Top 40 pop itself is horribly skewed, and the sound of the Deviants grinding out their misshapen R&B classics is the last sound you will hear.
Move on to "Garbage," and though the Deviants' debt to both period Zappa and Fugs is unmistakable, still there's a purity to the paranoia. Ptoof! was conceived at a time when there genuinely was a generation gap, and hippies were a legitimate target for any right-wing bully boy with a policeman's hat and a truncheon. IT and Oz, the two underground magazines which did most to support the Deviants (Farren wrote for both), were both publicly busted during the band's lifespan, and that fear permeates this disc; fear, and vicious defiance. It would be two years, and two more albums, before the Deviants finally published their manifesto in all its lusty glory -- "we are the people who pervert your children" -- during their eponymous third album's "People Suite." But already, the intention was there.
by Dave Thompson
The first and only single that The Deviants cut in the sixties, this pairing was taken off their highly uneven, amusing and at times terrifying album, “Disposable.” And it acts as a succinct overview of that album: the A-side featuring lead vocalist Mick Farren bellowing, braying and screaming his lyrics of twisted drug revelations while an equally screaming and blistering fuzz guitar gets turned in by Sid Bishop. The guitar solo is by far one of his most unbridled: a churning, splintery mass of sharpened noise, and it’s every bit as good as his racket making on their debut album, “PTOOFF!.” Since that point, personnel had shifted as several roadies joined on vocals as well as a three-man rhythm section: Russell Hunter on drums with Sandy Sanderson and Mac McDonnell on bass -- sometimes simultaneously.
From the moment Hunter’s drums bursts in to drive the thing down all the way to the end as awesomely-bad-for-the-fuck-of-it harmonica wailing flies overhead, a head-creasing, sideways/backwards/every-which-way near constant guitar sprays with over-sustaining, over-fuzzed out ferocious power. It screams and screams along as Farren is straining at the leash of his sanity, which is soon fraying into the slightest of threads as his lyrics are, at best, discernable with ever other line. More by its reckless display of bottled anger uncorked than anything approaching musicianship, “You’ve Got To Hold On” is an explosive punk track and its undyingly recklessness and incorrigible extremities were (and still are) astonishingly ahead of their time.
“Let’s Loot The Supermarket” is a methedrine-ravaged, brain-damaged, Dylan-banged piano and acoustic guitar accompanied sing-a-long with an undeniable aura of cracked and chewed lips, greasy hair of a crowded studio fogged in with compressed B.O. It’s a total “revolution for the hell of it” anthem, and they’d be singing it over burning trash cans in Powis Square if the empire ever fell. But here in the studio, Farren can barely sing by the middle section, fumbling over the lyrics and distracted by the backing vocal entourage of roadies and musicians, who are hardly helping matters.
Everybody is completely ragged from their time spent speeding and waiting around during playback for 48 hours. They’re out of tune, out of time, out of their minds and couldn’t care less. You wouldn’t, either. Pretty soon, infectious laughter kicks in (and the ass of) the overall resigned feel of the piece, and soon the entire studio is laughing like Bedlam inmates. You’ll start laughing, yourself. A bittersweet harmonica blows into the coda over half-assed handclaps and more laughter. You can almost see them struggling to remain standing (According to legend, even engineer Andy Johns couldn’t control things in the studio, because he too was spiked with enough methedrine to kill an elephant.)
by The Seth Man, March 2001
1. Opening (S. Bishop, M. Farren, R. Hunter, C. Rees, S. Sparks) - 0:08
2. I'm Coming Home (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren, Russell Hunter) - 5:59
3. Child Of The Sky (Farren, C. Rees, Hammond) - 4:32
4. Charlie (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren) - 3:56
5. Nothing Man (M. Farren, Moore) - 4:21
6. Garbage (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren, Russell Hunter) - 5:36
7. Bun (Cord Rees) - 2:42
8. Deviation Street (Mick Farren) - 9:01
9. Somewhere to Go (Mick Farren, Duncan Sanderson) - 7:23
10.Sparrows and Wires (Sid Bishop, Stephen Sparkes) - 0:52
11.Jamie's Song (Mick Farren, Russ Hunter) - 3:34
12.You've Got to Hold On (Mick Farren, Russ Hunter, Sid Bishop) - 3:51
13.Fire in the City (Mick Farren, Duncan Sanderson) - 2:58
14.Let's Loot the Supermarket (Mick Farren) - 2:30
15.Pappa Oo Mao Mao (Al Frazier, C.White, S. Harris, T. Wilson Jr.) - 2:32
16.Slum Lord (Mick Farren, Sid Bishop) - 2:15
17.Blind Joe McTurk's Last Session (Mick Farren) - 1:19
18.Normality Jam (D. Hughes, D. Sanderson, M.J. McDonnell, R. Hunter) - 4:19
19.Guaranteed to Bleed (Duncan Sanderson, Tony Ferguson) - 3:46
20.Sidney B. Goode (Sid Bishop) - 0:51
21.Last Man (Mick Farren) -5:44
*Mick Farren – Lead Vocals, Piano
*Sid Bishop – Guitar, Sitar
*Cord Rees – Bass, Spanish Guitar
*Russell Hunter – Drums, Vocals
*Duncan Sanderson, Stephen Sparkes, Ashworth - Vocals
1969 The Deviants 3
the Free Text